Dara Shikoh, also known as Dara Shukoh, was the eldest son and heir-apparent of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Dara was designated with the title Padshahzada-i-Buzurg Martaba and was favoured as a successor by his father and his older sister, Princess Jahanara Begum. In the war of succession which ensued after Shah Jahan's illness in 1657, Dara was defeated by his younger brother Prince Muhiuddin. He was executed in 1659 on Aurangzeb's orders in a bitter struggle for the imperial throne.
Dara was a liberal-minded unorthodox Muslim as opposed to the orthodox Aurangzeb; he authored the work The Confluence of the Two Seas, which argues for the harmony of Sufi philosophy in Islam and Vedanta philosophy in Hinduism. A great patron of the arts, he was also more inclined towards philosophy and mysticism rather than military pursuits. The course of the history of the Indian subcontinent, had Dara Shikoh prevailed over Aurangzeb, has been a matter of some conjecture among historians.